Miami Bodyguard (Kendall Family Book 5)

By: Jennifer Ann

Book Five in the Kendall Family Series



1





Angelina





The heat of the lights shining down on the red carpet is so intense that I expect the diamond necklace I was paid to model will melt off my neck and fall into the vintage gown that costs more than my oceanside apartment. Miami’s already hotter than balls, having reached record highs earlier in the day. The lace fabric clings to my breasts and hips like a second skin, making my skin itch everywhere. My pinched toes sting from the 4-inch stilettos. There’s nothing glamorous about the way I’m feeling at the moment. Considering I made a cool half a million from the designers simply for flaunting their creations, I shouldn’t complain.

Knots thicken inside my stomach, weakening my knees. What if I’m not meeting the expectations of everyone who came out for the event? What if I’m not as pretty in person as they were expecting? What if the dress shifts enough to make me look fat? What if my makeup begins to run and unflattering pictures circulate through social media? What if the psycho fan that groped me earlier returns?

It all could come crashing down at any moment. My career, my looks, my status in Hollywood…everything I’ve built my life around. Plus these fucking lights are making me woozy. I dig my blood-red fingernails into my diamond-studded clutch, longing for enough privacy to take another pill that will make all of this easier to endure.

As I fight to escape my own personal hell, I manage to put on a dazzling smile at my costar’s side, waving at the sea of screaming women jumping up and down behind the ropes in-between posing for photographers and taking interviews.

Becoming an overnight sensation has been a real trip—one I wasn’t prepared to take despite warnings from everyone I know in the business. Less than twenty-four hours after the first season of Vampire’s Kiss was released, I’ve been catapulted into a world where producers and paparazzi are tripping over themselves to get a piece of me, gossip of awards for best leading actress is being thrown around, and my publicist has been hounded for countless endorsement deals.

“You doin’ alright, babe?” Theo bites out through a terse smile, squeezing my arm. I’m transfixed by the scent of his designer cologne as his beautiful blues fix on me, waiting for assurance that I’m not about to lose my shit.

If the perfect man really did exist, handmade by God himself to be aesthetically pleasing to the female hormones, Theo Carr would be it. Someone was watching over me the day I was given the leading role in the paranormal series with the coveted actor. Up until I auditioned on my agent’s advice, I was nothing more than an aging model struggling to stay relevant among a younger crowd. Finding myself working alongside someone with his good looks and talent, working through scenes that involve endless hours of passionate kisses and touching each other in ways that almost compensate for my non-existent sex life? It’s as realistic as having a genie grant my every wish.

The thing is, I’ve never felt so alone. After losing the man I thought I’d marry to a younger model, nothing really matters anymore. The excitement of my success is lost along with the fact that I’m in a meaningless relationship with my insanely hot costar. I’m numb to all the things that should make me ridiculously happy—money, fame, and the “perfect boyfriend.”

It’s all so…empty.

I stand on my toes and press a kiss to Theo’s soft lips, warranting applause from the crowd and a storm of flashing cameras.

“You should’ve taken a hit with me in the limo to take the edge off,” he whispers as he backs away, brandishing the dazzling smile that’s earned him millions.

Another reason Theo won’t ever be the guy of my dreams? He’s into the hard stuff. Cocaine, mostly, although sometimes he breaks up my anxiety meds and snorts those too. He swears he’s only a recreational user, but I’ve seen him snort enough white powder to kill an entire football team. I don’t have a lot of room to judge considering just how much I need my benzos.

There’s a sudden uproar from the women gathered behind the rope. Their screams become downright desperate, almost as if they’re in pain. I casually glance over my shoulder, expecting an A-list celebrity. When I spot my little sister and her highly-coveted rockstar husband stepping onto the red carpet, warranting the attention of everyone in attendance, my heart soars with the first real emotion I’ve felt all night.

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